Organisers of the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah announced the full route details of the seven-day, 2.HC race that is scheduled for August 6-12. This year's event, which has confirmed the participation of five WorldTour teams, will include 857km of racing over 43,780 feet of elevation gain and nine classified climbs.
The highest climb of the race comes on stage 1 near the ski resort town of Brian Head at 10,600 feet above sea level. The peloton will once again climb to the summits of Mount Nebo, Little Cottonwood Canyon and Empire Pass, the latter two classified as hors categorie.
There will also be 13 intermediate sprint lines along this year's course. Stages 1 through 6 will include at least one intermediate sprint location each day, while there will be two sprints on stage 3 and three sprints on stage 4.
The event is being held a week later, which will allow for a full week of travel after the Tour de France for WorldTour teams. Last year, only one WorldTour team participated in the race, however, organisers announced in May that there will be five WorldTour teams, seven Pro Continental teams and five Continental teams for a total of 17 teams in this year's event.
The WorldTour teams include BMC Racing, EF Education First-Drapac, Mitchelton-Scott, Trek-Segafredo and LottoNL-Jumbo. Second-tier squads include UnitedHealthcare, Rally Cycling, Hagens Berman Axeon, Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources, Bardiani CSF, Israel Cycling Academy and Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini. Continental teams include 303 Project and Aevolo Cycling, Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, Jelly Belly Cycling Team presented by Maxxis and Silber Pro Cycling.
In January, organisers of the Tour of Utah announced the host cities and venues for this edition to include St. George and Park City, Cedar City, Payson City, Antelope Island State Park, Layton City, Salt Lake City, Canyons Village and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.
Prologue - Monday, August 6 - St. George, 5.3km
The prologue time trial will be held on a 5.3km course in St. George. The out-and-back course will take place on Red Hills Parkway, adjacent to Pioneer Park. Racers will gradually climb for the first two kilometres, followed by a short downhill to the turnaround. This provides a short climb to begin the return and a rapid, straight downhill track to the finish.
Stage 1 - Tuesday, August 7 - Cedar City, 162.5km
The race returns to Cedar City for a fourth time in the event's 14-year history. The 162.5km stage will include 8,950 feet of elevation gain. It also features the highest climb of the week through Cedar Breaks National Monument, topping out at 10,600 feet. The course is similar to the one used in 2016, this year with a new circuit finish in downtown Cedar City.
The first intermediate sprint will be contested in Parowan, then hit a category 1 climb up Parowan Canyon through Brian Head. This ascent into Cedar Breaks National Monument climbs 4,500 vertical feet in 24km, with some sections challenging riders with a 15 per cent gradient.
The riders will traverse the Markagunt Plateau and serpentine through the Mammoth Creek lava flows. After turning west in Duck Creek, the riders will face a KOM at Bristlecone, named after the 2,500-year-old Bristlecone pine trees that line the summit.
Then it's all downhill into the college town of Cedar City. The riders will complete three circuits around Cedar City and the campus of Southern Utah University. A new finish line will be placed in front of the new Southern Utah Museum of Art.
Stage 2 - Wednesday, August 8 - Payson City, 142.6km
The race returns to climb Mount Nebo for a seventh time, and the summit was last used in 2016. The peloton will race 142.6km route will start and finish in Payson City. After a 19km circuit north of town into Utah County, the race will return to Payson for a sprint in front of historic Peteetneet Museum and pass through the start/finish area at Memorial Park.
The route will then travel south through the orchards and lavender fields along Old U.S. Highway 91 for a sprint line in Nephi, then the final push on the category 1 ascent across Mount Nebo. Sitting at 11,928 feet, Mount Nebo is the southernmost and highest mountain in the Wasatch Range of Utah. The cyclists will summit the roadway at 9,300 feet for the one KOM on the day, then have a twisting 35km descent for the finish back in Payson.
Stage 3 - Thursday, August 9 - Antelope Island State Park to Layton City, 167.4km
It is the longest stage of the week at 167.4km. A new start on the far end of Antelope Island takes place at the Garr Ranch. It is the third time the race has started on the island that boasts more than 600 American Bison and large herds of mule deer. After a wind-swept 11km over the causeway to cross the Great Salt Lake's Farmington Bay to the mainland, the race will serpentine through Davis County to the new finish in Layton City.
It is the fourth consecutive year for Davis County to host the race, featuring an abundance of turns and a variety road widths that make for a tough and stressful day for the racers. Sprint lines will be contested once in Syracuse and twice in Farmington. One short, steep KOM up the Bountiful Bench could be the launching pad for a late breakaway. On the return stretch from Bountiful to the finish in Layton, the race will pass through Hill Air Force Base for a second year. After three circuits through Layton Commons Park, a stage winner will be crowned on North Wasatch Drive across from the park.
Stage 4 - Friday, August 10 - Salt Lake City, 110.1km
The race returns to downtown Salt Lake City with a modified course this year. The start/finish line has moved from Capitol Hill to North Main Street, with a view of the Salt Lake City skyline. The riders will race 10 laps of the 10.8km downtown course for a total of 110.1 km and 5,500 of elevation gain. Intermediate sprints will be contested at the start/finish line on laps 3, 5 and 7.
The course will flow north from Main Street through the Marmalade District to the steep ascent of 500 North, a section used for a finish line in 2015. The race will then follow the traditional route through City Creek Canyon and the Avenues neighborhood on 11th Avenue to a descent along Virginia Avenue by the University of Utah. Rounding Reservoir Park, the route returns downtown on South Temple and turns under the Eagle Gate on State Street to twist from North Temple to the uphill finish on North Main Street. It is the 11th year that Salt Lake City has served as a stage host, and a seventh time for a circuit course downtown.
Stage 5 - Saturday, August 11 - Canyons Village to Snowbird Resort, 152.6km
It is the return of the "Queen Stage" with 152.6km and 9,975 feet of elevation gain, the race starts in Park City and finishes at the summit at the Snowbird Resort. The race has finished at Snowbird Resort 11 times, and only twice has the winner of the stage worn the winner's jersey at the end of the week.
The peloton will set off from Canyons Village and take on an early KOM past Deer Mountain at Jordanelle Reservoir, a sprint at Wolf Creek Ranch, and a 3.2km stretch of dirt road on Democrat Alley. The route then goes through Peoa and up Browns Canyon to reach historic Park City for a second sprint line of the day and the ascent of the category 1 KOM, Guardsman Pass. A blistering 24km descent of Big Cottonwood Canyon leads to the Salt Lake Valley below and a short traverse along Wasatch Boulevard. Then it is on to the HC climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon for the signature 9.6km battle across gradients of eight to 12 per cent to the finish line at Snowbird Resort.
Stage 6 - Sunday, August 12 - Park City, 123.4km
After a one-year hiatus, stage 6 brings back the overall finish to Park City for a ninth time, and a sixth time for the overall race finish. The route will pass down Browns Canyon and encounter a sprint line in the town of Kamas before tackling a short category 3 KOM in the private community of Wolf Creek Ranch. A technical descent into Wasatch County will allow the riders to regroup through Heber City before the final sprint line in Midway. From there, riders will jockey for position at the bottom of Pine Canyon Road for the HC climb of Empire Pass. While the road conditions have improved with new pavement since it was last used in 2016, riders continue to battle road pitches of 10 to 20 per cent. The race doesn't end at the top of Empire Pass, as the peloton will finish on Upper Main Street in Park City.